Portraits of George Washington adorn the walls of B&S Quality Printing.
Owner Sandra Dickinson said they tell a story about the beginning stages of her business, when relationships grew out of promises, handshakes and deals to trade printing for paintings.
“I got those from a local gallery owner,” Dickinson said. “I did some printing for him, some advertising, and he gave me these portraits. They're beautiful. And he was the nicest man. He's since passed.”
Dickinson, 52, has said a lot of goodbyes.
Since the business opened in 1984 on 1000 Cornell Parkway, she has lost her husband, Bruce Henager, her father and her sister-in-law, all to cancer.
Henager died in 1996. That same year, Dickinson gave birth to the couple's only child, Dean.
Her husband was able to cherish 17 days with his son before he died.
“He was so happy; it was the greatest time of his life,” Dickinson said. “He told me he wanted me to remarry and bring our son up in a Christian home. I kept on saying no, no, no but he just said yes.”
Dickinson took refuge in the shop.
“I came here,” she said. “The work kept me busy and sane.”
At a crossroads
Dickinson saw her business at a crossroads after her husband's death. She knew that to keep the shop growing she'd have to learn about the business quickly.
She hired a salesman, Bobby Todd, and they went door to door to gain clients.
Dickinson worked long hours, creating business cards, presentation folders, restaurant menus, newsletters, posters, catalogs and more.
Equipped with a dark room, a cutting board, printing presses and a handful of employees, B&S Quality Printing grew along with Dickinson's knowledge of the business.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse,” she said. “But now I can't imagine doing anything other than this. I love it. It's in my blood.”
Her clients include Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City Community College, Hideaway Pizza, Ocean Dental and Chesapeake Energy.
She wants to gain more.
“I would love to get up and talk about my business. But I get so shy, that's my problem — I need more confidence.”
Two years after her husband died, she met Guy Dickinson, a Tinker Air Base aircraft electrician, at Northside Bible Church.
“I was in the nursery picking up my son and the pastor's wife introduced us. He was in Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots,” said Dickinson, a Texas native. “I think I have a thing for that.”
Dickinson said her husband is a man with a pleasing temperament who loves to cook and fish.
“In 14 years he's never raised his voice or said anything negative to me or Dean,” she said. “He's wonderful.”
“My friends always tell me I got lucky with him and with Bruce; that I was blessed two times,” she said.
Surrounded by photos of her loved ones, handed-down Bibles and the smell of ink, Dickinson looked around with tears in her eyes.
“No,” she said. “I've been blessed a lot of times.”
Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. But now I can't imagine doing anything other than this. I love it. It's in my blood.”
Owner of B&S Quality Printing